Structures of Time in Medieval Historiography

Medieval historical texts typically deploy a variety of temporal structures that underlie their literary narratives and generate both modes of emplotment and ideological messages. There are three dominant regimes of temporality that appear in these texts, often present in conjunction with one another: a strict series of events, paratactically presented without causal connection between the events that make up the series temporum; a cyclical view of history, originating ultimately in Greek and Roman historiography; and a far-reaching typological, or as Auerbach called it figural, construction of events in which antecedent events become prophecies of later ones, which represent their fulfillment. In addition, later medieval texts tend to be modeled on genealogical patterns., This article investigates the ways in which these temporal schemes are utilized, where, despite the inherent contradictions among such temporal structures, they nonetheless appear together and collaborate in promoting a particular vision of history in the Middle Ages.